Published: April 13th 2007April 13th 2007
I have recently gotten some complaints that I have not continued my blog through Israel. Perhaps it is because I feel like I am home, and who blogs about their home? Apparently, many people do...and so what follows are vignets of being home...but in a different way then I have been home before.
Every morning I wake up in Tel Aviv, Israel's non-existent equivalent for New York. The number of times I hear Israelis compare Tel Aviv to New York is hysterical. Perhaps one could compare it to a neighborhood of New York, say...Soho...but to do so would be denying both cities of their incredible uniqueness. Tel Aviv is thriving, vibrant, young and old crammed together on pavements that are uneven, and yet remarkably cleaner than India. The streets are as likely to have trashy, russian-clad manequins hovering in the windows standing next to an old shop, run by an 89 year old yishuvnick who is the guardian of film archives from 80 years ago. At all hours one can find the cafes full, sushi restaurants teeming, and bars cropping out of the most unique locations. As I ride my bike up and down the seashore each day, I can smell the summer approaching (though I wouldn't mind feeling the weather warm up a bit more). Tel Aviv is both a child and a grown up, and perhaps at that adolescent stage where it refuses to become wholey one or the other.
I am in love with this new Israel I have discovered over the past few weeks. Bauhaus structures are being renovated into fabulous apartments, rundown buildings are being shaped into new, modern cafes. Exercise seems to be a new fad, and hundreds of Israelis-young and old-cross my path as I attempt to train for the bike ride I am starting in 10 days. Restaurants teem with people...and as I browse the menus with a discerning eye...trying to siphon out the "fruits of the sea" (i.e. shellfish)...i recognize that Tel Aviv is becoming uniquely secular...and yet still retains a Jewish flavor. And for this I am grateful.
Written last week, but not posted...
I have read that human beings forget the feeling of pain. It is not that we don't remember feeling it; rather, we forget what the actual feeling was. Without this temporary amnesia we might never retry that which has hurt us once before. Many of us might agree that if we could feel the pain of losing someone, we might never try creating new relationships or if we could recreate the pain of childbirth, we might never choose to have more children. (I don't know this yet...but so I'm told).
I was having these ponderous thoughts as I walked today, extremely slowly...more like at a cow's pace through a crowded Indian street...through the outdoor market (Shuk HaCarmel) in Tel Aviv. With roughly 40 pounds of vegetables, cheeses, fruits and breads weighing down my plastic bags, I creeped through the market with said plastic bags digging deep, penetrating grooves into the soft flesh of my palms. Admittedly, I can be a wimp. But, as I continued my pace with the pain cramping every knuckle of my hands as I shifted the bags back and forth across the surface of my hands, I remembered back to the good old days of university when I would walk through a similar market in Jerusalem cursing the same pain-swearing to myself that I would get over my vanity and splurge on a tacky plaid rolling cart that the religious women shlepped behind them with pride moving on to feed their families for Shabbat.
And today, with those same flagrant thoughts piercing my brain, I rigged my sweatshirt as makeshift padding while I pushed my way out of the market and onto Allenby Street. This, my dear friends, was my first welcome return to the thing I might love most about my beloved country...the shuk.